‘Wittgenstein and Physics’

The first one-day conference in series organised by the St Cross Centre for the History and Philosophy of Physics, Wittgenstein and Physics, took place in Oxford yesterday. Organised by Jo Ashbourn, it was a hugely successful event, highlighting many of Wittgenstein’s important contributions to thinking about the nature of physics.


Left to right: Harvey Brown (philosopher of physics, Oxford University), Rupert Read (philosopher, East Anglia University), Graham, Chon Tejedor (philosopher, Hertfordshire University), Richard Staley (philosopher and historian, Cambridge University), Jo Ashbourn (physicist, Oxford University)


Among the five talks, several stood out, especially the opening one, given by Rupert Read, How to admire science and despise scientism, which set out Wittgenstein’s loathing of the unthinking application of science outside its domain of applicability, notably in the arts and in philosophy itself. In the afternoon session, chaired by Graham, Chon Tejedor splendidly set out the great philosopher’s thinking about induction in science, and Richard Staley examined the possible influence by Ludwig Boltzmann and Ernst Mach on Wittgenstein in his Vienna years.

Jo Ashbourn is now planning more one-day conferences at St Cross College, beginning with one in March 2015 on Voltaire and the Newtonian Revolution.